"The use of books selected on the basis of content in a planned reading program designed to facilitate the recovery of patients suffering from mental illness or emotional disturbance. Ideally, the process occurs in three phases: personal identification of the reader with a particular character in the recommended work, resulting in psychological catharsis, which leads to rational insight concerning the relevance of the solution suggested in the text to the reader's own experience. Assistance of a trained psychotherapist is advised." --bibliotherapy in ODLIS, Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.

In 1966, the Association of Hospital and Institution Libraries, then a division of the American Library Association, issued a statement on nomenclature accepting the following definition:

Bibliotherapy: The use of selected reading materials as therapeutic adjuvants in medicine and psychiatry; also guidance in the solution of personal problems through directed reading. (AHIL Quarterly, Summer 1966, p. 18.)

The duality of a guided therapy by a medical or psychiatric professional vs. directing the reader to a selection of books on an issue continues. The resources offered on this page address the directed reading aspect of bibliotherapy, which may distinguished from the more general readers' advisory by the presence of the "problem" to be resolved through reading.

The resources here are about the practice of bibliotherapy.  For reading lists, please visit Resource Lists for Helping Children in Times of Trouble.

Web-based Resources

Bibliotherapy Education Project © website, housed at Central Michigan University. Has resources and links to assist with evaluating materials for bibliotherapy work with children and adolescents, finding evaluated books for certain age groups and issues, and learning more about the use of books in therapy.

Children's Literature in a Time of National Tragedy, ERIC Educational Reports, by Mei-Yu Lu.

International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. The Federation sets standards of excellence in the training and credentialing of practitioners in the field of biblio/poetry therapy and maintains a list of credentialed practitioners.

Print Resources

Abdullah, Mardziah Hayati. "Bibliotherapy." ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication Digest #177, December 2002.

Association of Hospital and Institution Libraries. Biblio-therapy: Methods and Materials. [Prepared by] Committee on Bibliotherapy, (Mildred T. Moody, chairman) and Subcommittee on the Troubled Child, (Hilda K. Limper, chairman), Association of Hospital and Institution Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 1971.

Bodart, Joni Richards. "Books that Help, Books that Heal: Dealing with Controversy in YA Literature." Young Adult Library Services, Vol. 5, No. 1, Fall 2006, p. 31-34.

Bowman, Cynthia Ann. Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Health Issues. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.

Carroll, Pamela S. Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Societal Issues. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.

Crago, Hugh. "Bibliotherapy and psychology." International Companion Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Second Edition, Volume 2, ed. Peter Hunt, 2004.

Doll, Beth and Carol Doll. Bibliotherapy with Young People: Librarians and Mental Health Professionals Working Together. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1978.

Dovey, Ceridwen. "Is Reading the New Therapy?" New Yorker, June 9, 2015.

Gavignon, Karen. "Caring through Comics--Graphic Novels and Bibliotherapy for Grades 6-12." Knowledge Quest, vol. 40, no. 4, May/June 2012, p. 78-80.

Grover, Robert, and Susan G. Fowler. Helping Those Experiencing Loss: A Guide to Grieving Resources. Santa Barbara, Calif: Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

Gubert, Betty K. "Sadie Peterson Delaney: Pioneer Bibliotherapist." American Libraries, Vol. 24, No. 2, February 2003, p. 124-130.

Hynes, Arleen McCarty and Mary Hynes-Berry. Bibliotherapy--the Interactive Process: a Handbook. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1978.

International Child and Youth Care Network (overview, with references)

Jones, Jami L. "A Closer Look at Bibliotherapy." Young Adult Library Services, Vol. 5, No. 1, Fall 2006, p. 24-27.

Kawaguchi, Karen. A Tale of Two Bookstores: "Bibliotherapist" Scott Meyer helps customers solve problems at his two locations. Publishers Weekly, posted July 23, 2001.

Knoth, Maeve Visser. "What Ails Bibliotherapy?" The Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2006.

Lu, Ya-Ling. "Helping Children Cope: What is Bibliotherapy?" Children & Libraries, Vol. 6, no. 1, Spring 2008, p. 47-49.

Menninger, Karl, M.D. "Reading as therapy." ALA Bulletin, Vol. 55, No. 4, April 1961, p. 316-319.

Moore, Floy Jack, M.D. and William E. Breland. "Books Valuable to Mental Health." Mississippi Library News, June 1962, p. 53.

Pardeck, Jean A. and John T. Pardeck. Young People with Problems: A Guide to Bibliotherapy. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1984.

Pierce, Jennifer Burek. "A Feeling for Books: Therapeutic connections to library practice." American Libraries online, posted 11/22/2010. With comment from Rhea Joyce Rubin, "Bibliotherapy's place in librarianship," p. 7

Rubin, Rhea Joyce, ed. Bibliotherapy Sourcebook. Phoenix: Oryx, 1978. Compilation of essays and articles.

Rubin, Rhea J. Using Bibliotherapy: A Guide to Theory and Practice. Phoenix: Oryx, 1978. Includes some history on the focus on bibliotherapy by the ALA, through the Hospital Division, now part of ASCLA.

Sawyer, Walter. Growing Up with Literature. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson/Delmar Learning, 2004. (see pages 243-275)

Smith, Alice G. "Will the Real Bibliotherapist Please Stand Up?" Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Vol. 2, NO. 3, Spring 1989, P. 241-249.

"A Spoonful of Dickens: British Doctors Prescribe 'Bibliotherapy' for the Stressed-out and Depressed., posted August 17, 2000.

Sturm, Brian W. "Reader's Advisory and Bibliotherapy: Helping or Healing?" Journal of Educational Media & Library Sciences, Vol. 41, No. 2, December 2003, p. 171-179.

Tews, Ruth M., (issue) ed. "Bibliotherapy (PDF)"Library Trends, Vol. 11, No. 2 Fall/October 1962.

Weinstein, Stuart H. Bibiotherapy for Children: Using Books and Other Media to Help Children Cope. Miami, FL : University of Miami, Mailman Center for Child Development, 1977.

Winerip, Michael. "A Childhood Issue? Ask A Librarian." New York Times, posted May 20, 2007.

Zaccaria, Joseph S., and Harold A. Moses, Jeff S. Hollowell. Bibliotherapy in Rehabilitation, Educational, and Mental Health Settings: Theory, Research, and Practice. Champaign, Ill.: Stipes, 1978.